There's quite a bit of grey to think about with Black Friday

This week, I’ve been frustrated with some comments about Black Friday. For many, the idea of Black Friday is wrong. I understand where they’re coming from, but the reality is that as long as consumers show up, the hype isn’t going to die down. 

Black Friday used to be more commonly known as “the day after Thanksgiving”. For as long as I can remember, that day has marked the official kick off to Christmas shopping. I have personally gone shopping on the day after Thanksgiving to take advantage of the sales as I completed my shopping lists for Christmas.

I once worked 14 hours on the day after Thanksgiving. I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the day. The atmosphere was happy, energetic, excited. People were gearing up for my personal favorite holiday of the year - Christmas. Working that day was actually fun. I was even interviewed for the local news.

Though the term “Black Friday” has been around for decades, it became a marketing ploy only in the last decade.

As with most things, the press has taken isolated yet extreme incidents and created an impression of rampant violence fueled by the greed of American consumers. 

I’m not a fan of what Black Friday has become. I think many of the “deals” are suspect and it saddens me to see shoppers worked into a frenzy to spend money in order to save a few dollars. If I lived in the US, I would no longer participate in any way with what it has become. I also won’t participate in the burgeoning Black Friday sales that have made their way into Canada. (And, for the record, we avoid Boxing Day as well.)

There’s been a lot of disturbing criticism of Black Friday that hits home to me, because it comes across as judgmental, uses generalizations or makes accusations of hypocrisy. 

The judgmental criticism is usually centered around the idea that Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family. And I totally agree. The Black Friday sales that are creeping into Thanksgiving Day (Black Thursday) - ugh. I just hope people boycott those retailers. However, the day after Thanksgiving sales really aren’t any different than Boxing Day in Canada. And though there haven’t been the same reports of the kinds of crazed shoppers that have happened in the US, it doesn’t mean that can’t or won’t happen here. 

I’ve seen a lot of generalizations that lump all Americans into various unflattering categories (both implied and explicit) - selfish, materialistic, greedy, etc. Sometimes generalizations can be used to make a point and recognizing that they are generalizations can soften the impact. But there are a lot of people in the US who are really good people. Some of them choose not to participate in Black Friday. Others do participate. The vast majority of the shopping that goes on happens with long waits, but customers remain civilized. Unfortunately, that’s boring, so it doesn’t make the news or internet memes. 

Finally there’s the hypocrisy claims. Suddenly it’s bad to be thankful Thursday and then go out and buy things Friday. I could probably come up with a list of dozens of reasons that people might be out shopping that don’t have anything to do with acquiring more posessions. One happens to be the original purpose of Black Friday - Christmas shopping (presumably for others). And so what if I go out and buy something new for myself? Does doing so the day after Thanksgiving make me somehow less thankful?

Instead of questioning the motivations of those who are going out on Black Friday to shop, perhaps it’s more productive to think about the reasons we’ve gotten to the point of frenzied shopping in the first place.

  1. We have had years of downturn in the economy, workers who can’t find jobs, etc. 
  2. There is more pressure than ever before to keep up with all the latest and greatest stuff - affordable or not.
  3. People want to save money wherever they can to live up to a certain standard.
  4. Some people think they will feel better if they go shopping (retail therapy).

I’m not so naive that I think everyone is out there due to misfortune or for altruistic reasons. However, I know that not everyone is out there for the negative reasons that are being thrown about on social media lately. 

There are over 300 million imperfect humans in the US. There are over 30 million imperfect humans in Canada. Both countries have their pros and cons. Both countries have awesome people and not-so-awesome people. Neither country is better than the other. 

In my opinion, it is foolish to think that Canada is immune to these kinds of incidents, especially as they’ve already happened here before. So, perhaps it’s time to stop being critical and start speaking with your feet by walking away from Black Friday. That’s the only way retailers are ever going to tone it down.

Okay, who let the 80s throw up all over this year's sandals?

Oh, come on! Apart from looking really uncomfortable, I can’t imagine zipping myself into summer shoes. I get enough of that in winter.I’m on a mission. To buy sandals. And the ugliness that greets me every time I walk into a shoe store lately is really getting in the way of the success of my mission! Have shoe designers run out of new ideas? Or did they decide retro as the way to go this year? Did they pull out the shoe archives from 25-30 years ago and pick and choose the most blatantly 80s looks to produce and put out there for the world?

I started noticing about  a month ago that many women were wearing shoes that I remembered seeing a lot in the 80s. Personally, I’m no style maven and generally I don’t notice what people wear much unless it strikes me as either really nice or really awful. The straight-out-of-the-eighties sandals I see all over the place have me cringing. And I’m sorry if you like them - we’ll just agree that our tastes are different. But I have a few thoughts about why these “retro” shoes are just not doin’ it for me.

They are a trend. By its very nature, a trend is something that can last for varying lengths of time, but when it comes to fashion - here today, gone tomorrow is the rule. (Right? I got that right, didn’t I? Because I’m no expert.) So, if these little blasts from the past are going to be the it thing to wear for this season alone, they aren’t worth taking even a first look at in my opinion. Why?

Because I want classic, elegant looks - something that will carry over to next season since the shoe (shouldn’t) isn’t going to fall apart before then. I have conservative taste in what I wear and conservative taste in what I choose to open my wallet to buy. But I digress. Let me explain where all this is coming from:

My sad, broken shoe.Friday night, I came home, excited to get ready and go out with some girlfriends for dinner and drinks. We were all getting dolled up and meeting in the Byward Market to gab away the night. When I took off my cute little mules that I’d been wearing all day, I realized one of the soles had separated. Apparently the ball part of the sole broke up with the heel. It was a clean break, but I was sort of heartbroken because I’d been dragging these sandals out of my closet off and on for about 11 years. (Okay, it was time for a new pair. I get it. And also, I wasn’t all that heartbroken since I didn’t like them THAT much. They only lasted as long as they did because I hardly ever wore them!) They also probably only cost me about $20 at T.J.Maxx back in Tallahassee.

Friday afternoon, I had been out shopping - never noticing the condition of my sandal. I was already looking for some sandals and started seeing an overabundance of sandals I’d never buy for even a second.

These beauties (I use that term loosely) were put in the sandals section, but they more closely resemble winter boots in my opinion.I have a couple of priorities when I buy shoes. The first is comfort. I’m not all about pinched toes, rubbing ankles or toe bones. If I can avoid blisters or fractured foot bones, that’s a good sign the shoe has a chance. I’ve mentioned before that I’m practical person and I like my shoes to work with my life - and I do a decent amount of walking around/standing during the day. Uncomfortable shoes can make me fairly miserable.

My second priority is that a shoe be at least moderately attractive. I’ll probably never wear a pair of stilettos with pointy toes, but shoes don’t have to be the height of fashion to look nice. 

Okay, so clearly there were some duds out there. What about good shoes? Well, I searched high and low and I found a couple pair that have an 80s vibe that’s been updated for the here and now - and I like them. (Okay, I actually want to buy one of them.)

One of two shoes with an 80s feel that I actually liked.This first pair has all the strappy heaven of an 80s sandal without the zipper hell. Oh, and without looking like a shredded boot (see first picture above for an example of the shredded boot look). I’m not totally in love with this shoe - in fact, I couldn’t imagine liking it on me, but I can see it being very attractive on someone else. It’s got a classic look that will last for more than just this season - long after the shredded boots are still rotting away in someone’s closet, the woman who buys this sandal can keep wearing it until it breaks up on her.

Cute! I’m totally thinking about whether I want to order these.Last, but not least, is my personal favorite sandal that I saw on the site I used to research all these shoes and I won’t lie - it’s because I always wanted a pair of sandals like these in the 80s. But this one is actually cuter! It has the wedge heel so it can be worn as business casual on occasion and also looks comfortable, so it can dress up a casual weekend ensemble as well. They aren’t quite as dressy as I was looking to get, but I’m not done looking yet.

And now I’m done ranting about my shoe issues. If you are interested in any of these…ahem…fine shoes. Just click on the picture and it will take you to the Globo Shoes site where I found them. Not that I’m doing this post for Globo or anything - I just happened to spend more time at their store than at the others, so I’m actually sort of picking on them because of it.

My big kid needs clothes, too!

Okay, so I’m kind of frustrated with buying clothes for Brandon. Actually, I’ve always been frustrated with it - seriously, why are baby clothes such a hassle? Especially for boys. I’ve got two beefs, though. One has to do with the sizes available. I got so excited last fall when I heard that Carters opened up here in Ottawa and I made the (long) trip across town to check out the store, specifically because I wanted to get sleepers. Now, I went when Brandon was 8 months old, but I needed 12 months sleepers, because he’s very advanced for his age. The store had absolutely nothing over the 9 months size. I waited about a month and went back - nothing. I give up now. Going across town is just not worth it - yes, even for Carters.

Yesterday, we went to Old Navy to find him a few things and once again, I run into the problem of finding clothes for a child that are bigger than 12 months. It makes me want to pull my hair out. What do clothing manufacturers think? The baby stops growing when they get to the 6 months size and then BAM, they’re 2T suddenly? Hello! I’m quite certain there are lots of babies who need these larger sized clothes and yet all I can ever find in the stores is 9 months and under.

My other beef about baby clothes is the prominent and abundant display of girls’ clothing. There are tons of styles, fabrics, patterns to choose from. For boys, they mass produce a bunch of different colours of the same exact thing and throw it on the side shelves out of the way of the girls’ things. I’ll admit, I can see why making an abundance of styles for boys can be challenging, but I think children’s clothing designers need a serious dose of creativity. I’ve picked through stores to fine one or two little items that are both cute and a good price and I think Brandon’s a well-dressed little man for it. But I have to deal with crap like going into The Children’s Place and finding that everything in his size is based on one theme. I can’t remember what it was, but I haven’t been back, because I wasn’t interested and didn’t think it was at all cute. Don’t get me wrong, I have gotten some really cute stuff from there as gifts from friends - I just wish I knew where they found this stuff, because I sure can’t find it!

Oh well, at least I know the selection gets better. I can always drive to Syracuse and buy clothes in the States - the selection is far better down there anyway.